"This is truly fraud on a massive scale," says Arizonans For Affordable Electricity spokesman Matthew Benson.
A 10:00am Monday morning hearing (July 23) is set in front of Judge Daniel Kiley.
That committee - well-funded by key opponent Arizona Public Service/Pinnacle West - is represented by Snell & Wilmer, and the named plaintiffs in the case are state lawmakers John Kavanagh and Vince Leach; the Arizona Chamber of Commerce CEO Glenn Hamer; Ashley Ragan (as Treasurer of AAE); the Mayors of Gilbert, Buckeye and Mesa (Jenn Daniels, Jackiee Meck, and Dave Giles, respectively; and an individual who is an SRP customer* (Justine Robles).
Leach and Kavanagh had previously filed a complaint with the Secretary of State's Office claiming that the Clean Energy committee was paying circulators an hourly wage but including a signature quota as part of their employment. They alleged - and allege in the court challenge - that that violated the new laws put into place by the Legislature and Governor after the 2016 minimum wage increase initiative.
Besides the general arguments aimed at convincing the court to prevent the initiative from being placed on the ballot, today's complaint goes after individual signatures and sheets of signatures gathered by invalid circulators. (This also indicates that Plaintiffs will likely subpoena many or all of the circulators to testify. Per a 2015 law, if a circulator does not appear, all signatures gathered by him or her would be invalidated. Many of the circulators are from out of state.)
More than 480,000 signatures were turned in, according to the Clean Energy Committee, and nearly 226,000 valid signatures are needed to make the ballot.
AAE claims that their careful review of the signatures finds that more than 374,000 are invalid - or, a 22% validity rate. With that, the initiative effort would be far short. It will be up to the judge (and, would very likely be directly appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court).
Interestingly, AAE spent much effort trying to dissuade Arizonans from signing the initiative by noting that some of the registered circulators were dangerous, convicted felons. Today's complaint only tries to invalidate 168 signatures on that basis.
The Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona is ready to defend their effort in court. Spokesman Rodd McLeod tells Arizona's Politics:
"APS has already spent 10 million dollars of their customers' money trying to deny Arizonans a choice about our future. How much deeper will they reach into their customers' pockets to pay their corporate lawyers to file delusional lawsuits?"
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